The 6 Best Minimalist Running Shoes for Women to Buy in 2018

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More and more runners are embracing minimalist running shoes, which fall in between barefoot shoes and traditional running shoes, and promote a natural style of running. Many female runners like the light, springy feel and responsiveness of a minimalist shoe. And even if they typically run in a more traditional running shoe, some women prefer a minimalist shoe for other activities, such as hiking, walking or cross-training.

When choosing a minimalist running shoe, you should look for ones that are lightweight, flexible, and have a high degree of ground feeling and sufficient foot protection. You may also want some light cushioning and support, especially if you’re running or walking longer distances. Check out this list of the best minimalist running shoes for women to find the right shoes for your needs, preferences, and budget.

It’s important to remember that minimalist running shoes may not work for all types of runners and they take some getting used to. If you typically run in heavier, more supportive running shoes, you should start with walking in minimalist shoes and gradually build up to shorter runs. 

Our Top Picks


Best Overall: New Balance Women's MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoes

If you want a well-rounded minimalist shoe, the New Balance Women's MT10V1 Minimus Trail Running Shoe checks all the boxes for superior comfort, traction, flexibility, ground ​feeling, foot protection, and durability. With excellent traction and support, it’s extremely versatile and can be used for walking, running on roads or trails, hiking, cross-training, obstacle course racing, and more. The shoe’s premium foam support and a midfoot wrap to help keep your foot stable and comfortable. With a wide forefoot and large Vibram hexagonal treads on the outsole, the Minimus provides outstanding traction and grip, even on ascents and descents.

Runners love that these shoes are comfortable right out of the box, and don’t need a break-in period. The shoe is also treated with an antimicrobial solution to help reduce funky shoe odors. It features a snug, but comfortable, fit, so if you have a wide foot or prefer to wear very thick socks, you may want to consider ordering the men’s version of the shoe.


Best Budget: Skechers Performance Women's Go Run Ride 6 Running Shoes

With similar features and performance of some higher-priced minimalist shoes, the Skechers Performance Women's Go Run running shoes are an excellent value for your money. These shoes feature Skechers’ GOimpulse Sensors on the outsole that provide flexibility and feedback for a responsive, more natural running experience. They also have a molded heel counter and inner support strap for stable and secure fit. Users love the shoes’ lightweight feel and responsiveness, as well as its comfort and durability. They’re a great option as a light trainer for speed workouts, but can also be used for longer runs. 


Best for Trail Running: Merrell Women’s Pace Glove Trail Running Shoes

The Merrell Women’s Pace Glove trail running shoe offers excellent ground feel for a true minimalist running experience, while still providing the protection your feet need when you take your running off-road. The trail-friendly pad in the forefoot and the Vibram outsole provide great grip, traction, and support, even on rough terrain or wet conditions. The outsole’s grippy lugs are spaced so that none are placed under the arch, which allows your feet to flex more naturally for increased comfort. The synthetic leather and breathable upper material keeps your feet feeling cool and comfortable. The shoes are also treated with M Select Fresh to prevent sweat and moisture from causing shoe odor.


Best for Hiking: Altra Running Women’s Lone Peak Running Shoes

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Altra Running Women’s Lone Peak running shoes are ready for any kind of weather or terrain you want to tackle. With its Polartec NeoShell lining, these shoes will keep your feet warm and dry by creating a weather-resistant barrier between the elements and your feet. The StoneGuard offers flexible protection from rocks and other trail debris, and the TrailClaw outsole combines uphill and downhill lug traction for any kind of rough trail conditions. Altra’s ZeroDrop (meaning no elevation difference between forefoot and heel) and its FootShape toe box allow for a more natural foot position for increased stability and proper form. Whether you’re hiking or trail running, you’ll love the comfort and protection you get from these shoes.


Best for Walking: Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 Women’s Trail Running Shoes

The Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 trail running shoes are extremely versatile and can be used for running, exercising, and walking. This shoe is intended for neutral runners who want a lightweight, yet durable, minimalist shoe. It does feature some minimal cushioning, providing a little extra protection and comfort, and allowing for walking or running on hard surfaces and longer distances. It’s perfect for someone who likes to take long walks or spends a lot of time on her feet.


Best for Cross-Training: Merrell Vapor Glove Barefoot Trail Running Shoes

Known for its comfort, the Vapor Glove from Merrell is a solid minimalist women’s running shoe that’s a great option for cross-training, hiking, trail running, or even just walking around. They feature a precise and snug, but comfortable, fit and a durable outsole for maximum support and traction. These shoes also have a zero-drop heel, promoting a more natural style of running and a very minimalist experience. Like other Merrell shoes, they’re treated with an odor-reducing solution.

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